In order to resolve budget and funding issues raised by the Corporation, athletes on the fencing, wrestling and ski teams have combined into one athletic program.
The new sport, entitled “Blitzkrieg” but affectionately referred to as “Title IX Ball” by some, combines elements from all three parent sports. It is being pioneered by fencer Wesley Irvine ’12, skier Shelley Boneham ’12 and wrestler James Bates ’13.
“We came up with the idea because we all wanted to stay competitive and active for our remaining semesters at Brown,” said Boneham. Irvine continued, talking about initial setbacks: “Figuring out protective equipment was difficult — so there isn’t any.”
In combining three sports with differing levels of physical contact — as well as differing levels of testosterone — the resulting product was inevitably a different experience for all athletes.
Indeed, the new sport has created new issues for the athletic trainers as well as health services. Common Blitzkrieg injuries include cauliflower ear, whiplash, severe whiplash and arachnophobia.
But the hybrid athletes love it. “There’s nothing like barreling down that mountain with nothing but the unitard on your back and the skis under your feet,” said Irvine wistfully, “as well as the six-foot-long sabre gripped in your cold, blistered fingers.” Bates continued: “I never paid much attention to fencing before, but it’s so satisfying to hurl your weapon like a javelin at your opponent and score a ‘skewer point’ in the last seconds.”
In an effort to give back to their community, many practitioners of the new sport have reached out to local middle schools to educate youth.
“We simplified the rules a little bit for them,” explained Bates, who coordinates weekly “deathmatches” for young children. “The quarters are shorter, and we don’t allow certain moves such as pulling a reversal on your opponent by using a well-tossed fistful of snow to the eye,” elaborated Boneham.
Some, however, are less enthusiastic about the new sport. Said Brown’s Athletic director Michael Goldberger about the new program: “I get the feeling that they’re just making the rules up as they go, and they give bonus points if any player tackles me. Someone is going to get seriously injured."
Goldberger could not be reached for further comment.